Kato Mivule | March 17 2009
Uganda’s I.T sector saw some good news this month with the launch of Orange Network, a European French Telecom company in Kampala Uganda. The Orange Network adds to the already existing four Telecom companies in Uganda, MTN, Zain, UTL, and Warid.
It will be interesting to watch the price wars between the Telecom companies as each competes for new clients and struggles to keep existing subscribers. Uganda has a population of about 30 million. Current Telecom subscribers are about 8 million.
Orange still has a short to become the top Telecom Company in Uganda but their products and services will determine their success in Uganda…
“For Ugandans, the telecoms carnival has gotten merrier and the juices won’t stop flowing. Orange Uganda, which has been putting its act together for two years since it got a license in 2007, finally commissioned its mobile network yesterday promising higher standards of quality. The network is the fifth in the country after MTN, Zain, Utl and Warid. Company executives were not, however, clear about the current size of their coverage in the country during the launch function in Kampala yesterday. They said they were present in much of the South and Southwest and that they were expanding daily with additional base stations…”
Orange Telecom launches in Uganda, By Elias Biryabarema, Daily Monitor, March 12, 2009
However, Orange Network will have to do things differently from all the other four competitors. For Orange to succeed they will have to focus on a new market rather than compete for the urban population already circulated with the other four major networks. This will mean reaching out to the other 22 Million Ugandans who have no access to cell phone technology. These Ugandans are mainly in the rural areas and it is in this ‘unreached’ territory that Orange must focus. This will mean spending more on infrastructure and human resource especially in the area of Customer Service.
Orange has had troubles in Europe with Customer Service in the area of Broadband Services and will need to ensure that the already established Telecom companies do not ‘steal the big fish’ from the Orange net.
Orange being a global company with operations in far more nations than any of the four Ugandan Telecom companies is at great advantage with expertise and advanced technology from the ever advancing European nations. The challenge for Orange is how to bring some of these Technologies to the Ugandan populations such as Banking and other Financial Services, e-Medical Services, e-Commerce, and Broadband Services.
Orange has the capability to move beyond simply making phone calls and totally make a revolution in Uganda’s Telecom sector. The four Telecom companies in Uganda, MTN, Zain, UTL, and Warid have not really broken out of the Box of just ‘making Phone Calls’. Orange can give them a ‘run for their money’ and out compete them in what has come to be an area of weakness for these four major Telecom networks…expansion into the unreached 22 Million Ugandans and offering new services other than making phone calls…
However, it will remain a challenge to the Orange Network to see if they can hire, train, and retain local Ugandan Talent. Companies like MTN and Zain have invested in the retention and personal growth of local talent.
Still Orange has made its début in the Ugandan and Kenyan Markets at a very strategic time when SEACOM, a marine fiber optic high speed Telecom company is about done with its undersea fiber optic cable connecting East Africa to the rest of the world. The Ugandan Government has also heavily invested in a fiber optic backbone cable all across Uganda. This infrastructure is a plus for Orange and its Broadband services.
Orange will have to make heavy initial investments in WiMax infrastructure in rural Uganda so as not to depend on infrastructure already laid by Zain, MTN, and UTL.
However, Orange must deal with local environmentalists, as some lawmakers are already complaining about the “overcrowding” of Uganda’s landscape with Telecom towers. The thought among some environmentalists is that many of the Telecom towers could cause unknown long term diseases like cancer due to microwave radiation emissions.
Orange can offer to become a people’s network in Uganda that seeks to provide solutions to their everyday needs. This includes protecting the privacy of Ugandans as Information Technology expands in Uganda.
Currently Ugandans can be wire tapped at will by Government officials without warrant or court order. Orange should become a people’s network and make it difficult for Government agencies to simply ‘steal’ people’s privacy by tapping into Ugandan Phone conversations and Data transactions.
The ‘value’ of Data security and integrity will give Orange a competitive edge above the other Telecom companies that are still struggling to find ground to thwart government’s infringing on people’s privacy when it comes to phone and data transactions in Uganda.
Overall Orange Network has a clear short at becoming the number one Network in Uganda should they capitalize on reaching the unreached 22 million plus Ugandans, offer new Services beyond the Phone Call Model, strategize to capitalize on the new fiber optic cable services with companies like SEACOM, and become a people’s network.
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